by Scholes, Robert
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Roger Fry (1866 - 1934)
Born in London, he studied science at King's College Cambridge, but his interest in art led him to Paris after taking a first in the Natural Science Tripos. In Paris he studied at the Academie Julian, and went on to become an expert in the art of the Italian Renaissance, writing a book on Giovanni Bellini that was published in 1899 and well-received. He spent the next twenty years painting, thinking about art, and organizing expositions, including the two famous London Post-Impressionist Exhibitions at the Grafton Galleries in 1910 and 1912. In 1913 he founded the Omega Workshops, which ran for six years on the principle of bringing art and craft together. He was a member of the Bloomsbury Group, working with Clive Bell on the two Post-Impressionist shows and loving Vanessa Bell. Vanessa's sister, Virginia Woolf, wrote a biographical memoir of Fry, who had a powerful influence on the aesthetic thought and the work of younger Bloomsbury artists like Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Fry became a powerful advocate for modernism in the visual arts, championing, in particular, the work of Cézanne and Matisse.
In July of 1909 Fry had a show of his paintings at the Carfax Gallery in London, which was very well reviewed by G. R. S. Taylor in The New Age, who began by pointing out that "Mr. Fry is not merely a painter himself; he is also one of the master critics of other painters' work. So that one has the somewhat joyful moment of seeing the critic faced with a brush and a canvas and paints, and an exhibition wall on which to hang his theories, translated into something less evasive than words," and concluded his lengthy review with the observation that, "take it all in all, this exhibition is a very remarkable display of cultured judgment" NA 5.2:39. Fry continued to write as well as paint.
Here is a list of Fry's books:
Giovanni Bellini (1899)
Vision and Design (1920)
The Artist and Psycho-analysis (1924)
Art and Commerce (1926)
Transformations: Critical and Speculative Essays on Art (1926)
Cézanne: A Study of His Development (1927)
Flemish Art: A Critical Survey (1927)
Henri Matisse (1930)
Characteristics of French Art (1932)
Reflections on British Painting (1934)
Last Lectures (published posthumously in1939)